a protective film, 7-9 nm thick, consisting of external oily, intermediate watery, and deep mucoprotein layers.
Synonym(s): tear film
The field covering the anterior surface of the cornea which consists of lacrimal fluid and of the secretion of the meibomian and conjunctival glands. Its total thickness was thought to be about 9 μm but recent investigations have questioned that value and point to a much larger figure. It is composed of three layers: (1) The deepest and densest is the mucin layer (or mucous layer) which derives from the conjunctival goblet cells, as well as some secretion from the lacrimal gland. (2) The watery lacrimal fluid is the middle layer, called the lacrimal (or aqueous layer). It is secreted by the lacrimal gland and the accessory glands of Krause and Wolfring. It forms the bulk of the film and contains most of the bactericidal lysosyme and other proteins, inorganic salts, sugars, amino acids, urea, etc. (3) The oily layer (or lipid layer) is the most superficial and is derived principally from the meibomian glands in the lids as well as some secretion from the glands of Zeis. It greatly slows the evaporation of the watery layer and may provide a lubrication effect between lid and cornea (Fig. F6). Note: Some authors have suggested that the precorneal film is made up of only two layers; an innermost aqueous and mucin gel layer and an outer lipid layer. Syn. lacrimal layer; preocular tear film; tear film; tear layer. See hyperlacrimation; mucin; tear secretion; Tearscope; break-up time test.